The Roaches is one of the most popular places to visit in the Peak District National Park. The walk up onto the rocky escarpment, and visiting natural attractions like Hen Cloud and Doxey Pool mean The Roaches Walk has plenty to keep you entertained from start to finish. Indeed, The Roaches are just as good from up on top as they are being viewed from the bottom. Additionally, the walk we’ll describe adds on a visit to the wonderful Lud’s Church, another magical place in the depths of the Peaks.
In this guide, we’ll look at what The Roaches and Hen Cloud are and where to find this Peak District walk. Then, we’ll let you know how to get there and where to park. Next, we’ll give a brief overview of The Roaches Walk itself, before answering a few FAQs. Lastly, we’ll recommend some other stunning Peak District walks you must do.
For more incredible walks in the Peak District, check out our guides on Derwent Edge, Mam Tor and Stanage Edge. Otherwise, read our Peak District Hiking post (coming soon), where we reveal some of the best hikes in the Peak District National Park.
Table of Contents
What Is The Roaches?
The Roaches is a gritstone escarpment in the Peak District National Park. It’s one of a handful of outstanding escarpments this national park is well known for. Rising sharply at the southern end of The Roaches in the Peak District is Hen Cloud. Coming from the old English Henge Clud meaning ‘steep rock’, it’s one of the most recognisable parts of The Roaches.
The Peak District’s Roaches are made up of sandstone, formed by sand deposits dropped by a huge river delta that once drained from the north, many moons ago. The steep western wall of The Roaches in the Peak District is a well-known sight on the landscape here. In addition, there is a fault that runs east to west through the col separating Hen Cloud from The Roaches. You’ll experience this firsthand on The Roaches Walk.
The Staffordshire Peak District National Park Authority purchased The Roaches in the 1980s to manage and preserve the area.
Where Is The Roaches Walk?
The Roaches are found in the south of the Peak District within the county of Staffordshire. Below The Roaches sits the town of Leek, as well as the Tittesworth Reservoir, which was originally built in 1858. The walk across The Roaches can begin from the northern or southern end of the escarpment. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll discuss beginning the walk from the southern end, climbing up to Hen Cloud first.
Nearby to The Roaches is another magical place in the Peak District – Lud’s Church. Walking to Lud’s Church is often added to The Roaches Walk. Indeed, it’s what Dan and I did and what we will briefly describe below. But, it’s not essential if you’re short on time or would prefer to visit Lud’s Church in its own right.
How to Get to The Roaches in the Peak District
The best way to get to The Roaches in the Peak District is to drive yourself there. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the nearest places to travel from. We’ll include the distance and drive time.
- Manchester: 1.5 hours // 33 miles (53km)
- Sheffield: 1.5 hours // 35 miles (56km)
- Leek: 15 minutes // 5 miles (8km)
- Buxton: 20 minutes // 10 miles (16km)
- Bakewell: 30 minutes // 16 miles (26km)
The Roaches Peak District postcode is ST13 8UQ.
If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, then we recommend hiring something. Of course, this can easily be organised from both Manchester and Sheffield. When hiring a car, we always get the ball rolling with a search on RentalCars.com. Booking a car with Rentalcars.com is easy and stress-free, plus they offer an unbeatable free cancellation policy too.
If you don’t have a car and you don’t fancy hiring one, then good news! You can get to The Roaches for a walk in the Peak District using public transport. The easiest thing would be to get to the town of Leek. Then, from Leek, take bus #109 towards Buxton and alight at Old Buxton Road in Upper Hulme. From here, you’ll simply walk half a mile or so up Roach Road to reach Hen Cloud.
You can check the bus services here.
You can also check the train services to get to Leek here. We also recommend using Google Maps to help plan your journey.
The Roaches Peak District Parking
For the walk to The Roaches in the Peak District that we’ll describe below, you’ll find parking along Roach Road at the base of the escarpment. The lay-by parking is free but spaces do fill up quickly. At peak times, farmers sometimes open their fields up for additional parking, but there’ll likely be a charge to park here.
Alternative parking can be found at Gradbach to the north of The Roaches Peak District. This is the same car park used for the Three Shires Head walk, so you could easily hike both in a day.
Useful Information to Know Before The Roaches Walk
- Check the weather: the weather in the Peak District can often be a little unpredictable. Even in summer, rain is not unusual. Make sure you’ve packed appropriately and have caught up on the forecast. You can check the weather here.
- Crowd control: The Roaches and Hen Cloud are very popular places for visitors to the Peak District. If you can be flexible with time and would prefer to walk The Roaches with fewer people, then try to visit during the week and outside of school and public holidays.
- The Roaches Peak District Climbing: just like Stanage Edge and Derwent Edge in the Peak District, The Roaches is a very popular place for rock climbing. So, expect to see a few climbing enthusiasts out doing their thing during your Roaches walk.
- Doxey Pool: there is no swimming allowed at Doxey Pool, so just enjoy its serene location and keep walking.
The Roaches Peak District Map and Preview
- Trail Type: Loop
- Distance: 11.5km
- Time: 2.5–3.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 390m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Roach Road Lay-by Parking
- Map: Wikiloc
The Roaches Peak District Trail Description
Below, we’ll provide a brief trail description of The Roaches Walk via Hen Cloud and Doxey Pool. We’ll also provide details about adding on the quick loop to Lud’s Church before returning, something we highly recommend.
After finding parking along Roach Road, you’ll find the trailhead leading up to The Roaches and Hen Cloud to the southern end. Before you reach The Roaches Tea Rooms and holiday cottages is a side track heading easterly and towards the escarpment.
At this southern end of The Roaches is the fantastic Hen Cloud. Hen Cloud is a brilliant rocky outcrop which is the first prominent rock feature to scale on this walk. The hike up to Hen Cloud is short and steep but oh so worth it. From the top of Hen Cloud, the views across the Staffordshire Peak District are extensive. Below, is the Tittesworth Reservoir and stretched ahead is the brilliant escarpment of The Roaches.
The Roaches Peak District
From Hen Cloud, the walk continues, traversing The Roaches in a northerly direction. There’s a slight drop descending Hen Cloud, as it does sit somewhat solitary from The Roaches, before rising sharply back up to join the main escarpment. From here, the trail rises gradually as you enjoy the delights from atop The Roaches. At around the 2.2km mark, you’ll reach the mystical Doxey Pool.
Doxey Pool on The Roaches
Doxey Pool is a small body of water that sits on the top of The Roaches escarpment. Legend has it that Doxey Pool is inhabited by a mermaid. Jenny Greenteeth, or Wicked Jenny as she’s also known, fell into Doxey Pool whilst walking The Roaches on a foggy day. Ever since she’s been luring unsuspecting walkers into the pond.
We didn’t see Jenny Greenteeth. Hopefully, you won’t either.
Soon after passing Doxey Pool, you’ll reach the highest point of The Roaches Walk in the Peak District. At 505 metres, the elevation and subsequent views are not to be sniffed at. Indeed, the vantage point from this part of The Roaches is unrivalled in the Staffordshire Peaks. It’s easy to see why so many visitors flock to The Roaches in the Peak District to experience these views.
From the highest point of The Roaches, the trail begins to descend down to Roach End. At this point of The Roaches Walk, you can either choose to continue on to Lud’s Church (highly recommend) or, head back to the car along the country lane.
If heading straight back, you’ll simply take a sharp left at Roach End and join Clough Head Lane. From here, you’ll follow the lane along the base of The Roaches, enjoying the views of the massive escarpment you’ve just walked across, and marvelling at the impressive Hen Cloud as it comes into view at the southern end. Don’t forget to look out for the Don Whillans Memorial hut too. It’s a stone hut, also known as Rockhall Cottage, that’s built into the western face of The Roaches. You can also find alternative trails leading to it if you want a closer look.
Lud’s Church Add-On to The Roaches Walk
If carrying on to Lud’s Church, you’ll continue straight at Roach End and continue to descend through the fields towards Back Forest wood. As you enter the woodland, you’ll immediately feel a shift in the feel of the walk. The grandeur of the escarpment is swapped for the magical feel of an enchanted forest walk.
Eventually, you’ll arrive a Lud’s Church. This exceptional chasm cuts through the landscape like a deep scar. The wall sides are covered in green moss and the walk through Lud’s Church has a sense of walking into a real-life fairytale. Once out of the other side of Lud’s Church chasm, follow the trail to the right and back through the woodland to Roach End. From here, simply follow the road back to the car as described above.
For more information about visiting Lud’s Church, either part of The Roaches Walk or independently, you can read more here (coming soon).
Below, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding The Roaches Walk in the Peak District National Park.
How Long Is the Walk at The Roaches?
The walk takes a few hours to complete and varies in length depending on whether you add Lud’s Church loop to the walk.
How Hard Is The Roaches Walk?
We have classed this walk as moderate difficulty. That’s because the walk up onto The Roaches escarpment and Hen Cloud is quite steep. However, the trails are easy to follow and the path at the top of the escarpment is well-maintained.
Why Is it Called The Roaches?
The name ‘The Roaches’ comes from the French les roches meaning ‘the rocks’.
Are The Roaches in the Peak District?
Yes. The Roaches, Hen Cloud and Doxey Pool all fall within the Staffordshire Peak District, in the south of the national park.
What Country Is the Peak District in?
The Peak District National Park lies in the northwest of England and falls within the boundaries of five different counties – Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire.
Are There Still Wallabies on The Roaches?
So, back in the 1930s, five wallabies were released from a private collection onto the land around The Roaches in the Peak District. By all accounts, they thrived for quite a number of years. But, it is now thought they have all died off. We certainly didn’t spot any and I’m sure Dan, as an Aussie, would have been able to sniff them out.
Other Walks in the Peak District National Park
We love walking in the Peak District National Park. After all, it’s practically our backyard. These are just a selection of some of the best walks in the Peak District.
- Mam Tor: one of the most popular walks in the Peak District with views down the Great Ridge.
- Alport Castles: a hidden gem in the Peak District, the Alport Castles are the result of one of the largest landslips in the UK.
- Derwent Edge: a beautiful walk up another Peak District escarpment.
- Stanage Edge: walk across one of the Peak District’s most famous escarpments.
- Kinder Scout and Downfall: hike to the Peak District’s highest point and enjoy the seasonal waterfall.
- Dovestone Reservoir: explore the northern reaches of the Peak District and visit the epic Trinnacle.
- Dovedale to Milldale: a walk through the beautiful Dovedale passes hidden caves, picturesque forest and clifftop trails. Don’t forget to check out the Dovedale Stepping Stones!
- Three Shires Head: at the point where Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire meet is a pretty little cascade.
- Birchover & Stanton Moor Circular: discover the prehistoric Nine Ladies Stone Circle on this delightful country walk.
- Thor’s Cave: this impressive natural cavern has fantastic views across the Manifold Valley in the south of the Peak District.
- Chrome Hill: climb true peaks in the Peak District. We recommend visiting for sunrise.
- Bamford Edge: easily one of the most photographed parts of the Peak District.
- Padley Gorge: a deep and narrow valley offers a magical woodland walk to all who venture within.
Five Hiking Essentials
These are our five walking gear essentials for The Roaches Walk in the Peak District! For a more extensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Alternatively, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a hiking trip to the Peak District, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
You should also pack water, snacks and warm clothing.
- The Roaches Peregrines: Peregrine Falcons were successfully bred at The Roaches in 2008. These falcons have successfully continued to breed at the site, although there have been reports of theft of eggs and young birds. Because you know, there’s always someone who has to spoil a good thing. Anywho, keep your eyes peeled!
- Wildlife at The Roaches: alongside Peregrine Falcons, The Roaches and Hen Cloud are also home to Red Grouse and are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as well as forming part of the South Pennine Moor Special Area for Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area. Dan and I also saw our very first weasel sprint across Clough Head Lane as we returned to our car. It was so quick the only thing we could describe it as was a furry hot dog on legs.
- The Winking Man and Ramshaw Rocks: for epic rock formations close to The Roaches in the Peak District, head to Ramshaw Rocks, which is famous for a series of rocks that look like a man winking when viewed from the Leek–Buxton road.
- Explore more of the Peak District: if you want the hassle taken care of when it comes to trip planning, Get Your Guide offers some pretty great tour options for the Peak District National Park.
Save or share this post with your hiking buddies before your next trip to the Peak District National Park!
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